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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » What Next!? (Page 2)

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Author Topic: What Next!?
Kathleen Dalton Woodbury
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So, either the problem is focusing on the first 13 lines to the exclusion of anything else or the problem is that extrinsic (don't be coy, we know whom you are complaining about) is a) overwhelming any other potential critiquers or b) monopolizing/dominating the conversation.

In response to the former, perhaps we need to stress again that one of the purposes for posting the first 13 lines is to get forum participants to offer to read the rest of the manuscript.

If that is the approach people would take, it would help, I think. However, all too often, I see 13 lines posted with a comment that goes something like this "I whipped this up and would like to know if it's worth pursuing. Would anyone read on?"

Using the 13 lines in that way is not all that helpful.

Also, taking feedback on the first 13 lines and editing those lines to death (as I have also seen done here) is not helpful either.

Consider putting up your first 13 lines when you have a complete rough draft at least.

As for the latter possibility for "the problem." What extrinsic does is up to him, but he has shared a lot of great information in the Open Discussions about Writing section and has offered detailed feedback in the Fragments sections that some (and I think most) people have appreciated, even if it's taken them a while to digest.

Just as an experiment, perhaps, extrinsic, you would consider holding off on feedback for a while. If no one else steps up to give feedback, I will "bump" the 13-line posts to remind people to critique.

And we can see if that could possibly be "the problem."

By the way, the best way to determine a problem, if there really is one, is to change only one "variable" at a time.

So, extrinsic, are you game to experiment?

And are the rest of you out there willing to see what may or may not result?

Or would those of you who have gained from extrinsic's feedback and don't want him to hold off for a while like to speak up and offer a different "variable" change?

In the meantime, I will try to come up with another attempt to encourage people to use the 13 lines more effectively.

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For someone who has moved on, it's curious you're responding to this thread.
Not really. Moved on as in posting and critting stories, which is what I thought these sites were all about.

I do live in hope, though, that Hatrack will come back to life, so I do lurk in that hope and thought I'd offer a suggestion as to how it might come about and why I thought this site has slipped into its current slumber.

There isn't all that many sites out there and I'd hate to see this one die.

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My two shekels (which, admittedly, isn't worth much):

Like any tool, the Hatrack Forum is most helpful for those willing to dedicate their time to learning its usefulness.

As Ms Woodbury aptly explains, the forum provides a coterie of fellow aspiring authors seeking to help each other improve their wordcraft and storytelling skills with the goal of achieving publication.

The "thirteen lines" offers the opportunity for critique of style and effect, the latter mostly defined by whether the reader would read on. While the line count is limited to 13, there is no limit in providing a blurb concerning more about the tale in hope of attracting fellow forum members to provide a full story critique. This is the primary goal of "the thirteen", in my humble opinion.

The critiques then offer an opportunity to be judged and, as importantly, to judge.

Who provides you insightful, helpful critiques, and who does not? The process is a bit like dating. You discover and then court those members most helpful to you, offering critiques in return, establishing relationships that, in my happy experience, become friendships. I have Hatrack to thank for the small cadre within this coterie that have become my valued beta-readers, and I'm pleased to have proven helpful to (at least some of) them in return.

I'm mostly a ghost here now admittedly, for Hatrack has proved a launching pad to other communities where published writers have adopted me (and they are kind to say it is not mere charity). I have not forgotten my Hatrack roots, however (one story first shared here long agp will see print in 2015); and I'll still offer occasional comments or a critique (yours is almost done, wetwilly) when sufficiently enticed.

As for extrinsic, I find him fascinating and well-learned in the "science" of writing and publishing. I am not an uneducated unintelligent gentleman, nor yet senile, despite my advancing years, but admittedly I understand less than half of all he has to share. [Wink]

Yet I don't let that worry me none. One should not mistake the sharing of superlative subspecialized knowledge with arrogance. As with all critiques (especially mine), I submit one should take what one finds useful and ignore the rest.

Now I have had the opportunity to read a small sample of extrinsic's writing. Not enough to draw any conclusions, if I were to be so arrogant and silly to make any, but enough to recognize a fellow artist experimenting with a well-supplied paint box. I would like to read more, but I need respect his decision in regard to what he is willing, and unwilling, to share--just as I would anyone else here. This does set himself apart from the community, admittedly. But, as Billy Pilgrim/Kurt Vonnegut, wisely said, "So it goes." [Smile]

This forum offers new writers a wonderful opportunity to grow together. I suggest you make the best use of it that you can, find your shipmates, and voyage on, second star to the right and straight on til morning. I wish you clear skies and fair winds--and good gold, ale, and good times when you reach port.

Dr. Bob

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"The report of my death was an exaggeration." --- Mark Twain, 1897

A November 1999 Hatrack thread asks why is the forum so dead lately. Responses proposed reasons similar to ones in this thread. Whenever the forums held little excitement amid dreary lives, claims and worries of Hatrack's demise arose. A desire to "shake things up" then and now and since the dawn time, I expect, Hatrack members expressed episodically since back when through now and will again.

Likewise long posts came up back when, and didactic, as well as members from time to time across the years participated passionately.

Passionate, there's the rub. Writing passion wanes and waxes. As like scene and summary, the action waxes when scenes stimulate antagonal, causal, tensional emotions; wanes when summary reflects to relieve tension, take stock, review the action thus far.

Discussion passion has been lackluster of late. Ms. Dalton Woodbury notes also that fragments of late have been trials of concept, prototypes, passionately indifferent, perhaps from a want to post so that fragments balance with fragment responses and vice versa.

A worksop principle requests work submitted for consideration be farther along than off-the-cuff raw draft; the best available draft of a considered and passionate narrative's developmental draft. As close to ready for debut as a writer can do and wants only a focus group's guidance for oversight adjustment suggestion. I see effort in fragments of late. Passion is not as apparent. Dispassionate writing, dispassionate participation: discussion boards slump.

I've long considered what universal features a thirteen lines fragment ought best exhibit. Many of my fragment responses have enumerated the results of those meditations and wide and deep study of other writers across human civilization who write about writing: emotion, attitude; event, setting, character introductions; antagonism, causation, tension, narrative voice, dramatic complication and dramatic conflict, and narrative point of view. Comprehensive enough, a lot to incorporate, though amply illustrated in any conventionally published narrative.

To meet Ms. Dalton Woodbury's experiment request I hold off for awhile and member requests for more of my fragments, I'll repair to the drafting board and prepare a fragment that meets those above criteria and fits at Hatrack.

Note my preferred aesthetic is R rated at least, if not MA, for adult situations, language, sexual and violent content unsuited for Hatrack, though not gratuitous language, sex, or violence, and prone to milieu territories inconsistent with young adult fantasy, science fiction, and horror. My preferred agonists--protagonist, deuteragonist, triagonist, and antagonist--are misguided, maladjusted, misunderstood villains of a piece: Hannibal Lecter, for example.

A "villain of a piece" is a notoriously maligned underdog who follows the beat of a drummer different from a community's preconceived social notions, a scapegoat, a whipping post, a lightning rod, a most-often sacrificial lamb to a community's wicked passions, a blame target for external responsibility re-assignments. This is me: c'est moi.

So an all-in pot--I'll work out a fragment that suits those sensibilities and criteria enumerated above; meanwhile, hold back from lengthy fragment commentary and discussion participation for a time.

Ante up.

[ October 22, 2014, 02:10 PM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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Dirk Hairychest
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Well, I don't like this experiment and I am not sure what it is going to prove. He shows his class by his acceptance of this. I don't like silencing any voice as passionate as extrinsic. I have never submitted 13 lines and so never had the honor of receiving one of extrinsic's thorough critiques. I always selfishly hoped ex would join one of the wotf groups just to get his insight on one of my shorts for the contest.
So, in support of old ex (who I have never conversed with before) I am submitting 13 lines of an old short story I would like help with.

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Speaking of Hannibal, "I love it when a plan comes together."

One issue I have noticed within myself it the lack of desire to post comments on a fragment that already has a lengthy discussion, feeling that I must first catch up on all previous comments before I might give my own critique. Perhaps this is my own failing though I wouldn't be surprised if other felt this way as well.

In response to what Kathleen said regarding the purpose of the 13 line fragments is to lead to a private full reading, I do think that would be beneficial if it happened more around here. I too ought to engage more in that arena, both in submitting and in reading. The reason I have not yet is that I don't have anything I feel is ready for review (though close I think) and I lack confidence that I could give a helpful critique of another's work.

extrinsic: Do I remember correctly that you chose not to do full critiques of other's work? If so, I'm curious as to why. And even if you refrain from fragment crits, I hope you'll still participate in the other threads, especially in open discussion about writing. I don't know whether you holding back participation is the best solution, but I admire your willingness to help in any way.

While we're at it, I suppose it'd be worth mentioning that my first impression of the forums was that they look very dated. So much so that I had to double check the time stamps on a few posts to convince myself that people were still active here. Maybe it's not a huge deal. I can understand why forums such as these don't need all the bells and whistles like avatars and signatures and pictures and hyperlinks and the like. Still it seems very silly that Kathleen can't even make a topic "sticky" at the top. This is pretty standard for most forums. Even the visual aspect of the sight may be offputting for potential new members. Just a thought.

Also, it was mentioned previously that one of the big draws is that this site bears the name of a highly acclaimed author. Out of curiosity, does Mr. Card himself ever make appearances? How about other notable authors for that matter? It would help to know Hatrack runs the whole gamut of expertise among those who participate. I suppose if he, or others, showed up all the time it might attract the wrong crowd, but it would be nice to know he has some investment concerning what goes on in his forums.

As far as anonymity, I can understand the argument for both sides. An up-and-comer does not want to ruin their name by some off-handed comment they made or argument they got too involved in.The same is true of an author with a reputation to uphold. On the other hand, if one is wise in what they submit to the public forum, they will not need to worry about such things. We ought to own what we say if we feel it is worth saying. However, I do not respect the want to use a hidden identity in order to proclaim boldly what you would never say under your own name. But I can see how one might not want their public reputation to prevent others from hearing what they are trying to say. There is a balance I'm sure. That said, I don't see such abuses happening here. I respect one's decision to remain unknown while also contributing to the community. As for myself, I am a no one of no ones. When that changes I'll have to decide how transparent I ought to be. Until then, best to play it safe. [Smile]


[ October 22, 2014, 04:36 PM: Message edited by: Lamberguesa ]

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Or would those of you who have gained from extrinsic's feedback and don't want him to hold off for a while like to speak up and offer a different "variable" change?
My original suggestion was the modification of the 13 lines. That suggestion has been declined, which okay, groovy.

I don't *think* I made the suggestion that Extrinsic should stop responding. I did point out, though, that the vast majority of content produced on the site belongs to his type of posts, which to me isn't a dynamic website. It's a site that has become a personal blog.

With my original variable change declined, however, I *wholeheartedly* disagree with the idea of Extrinsic not responding, especially since I never made that suggestion. And whoever did has some 'splaining to do.

Censorship is rarely the answer to any problem.

Extrinsic, you've pointed out several times that you like anonymity because of several bad workshopping experiences. I've been doing workshops in one form or another since 1995, and over the last two decades, I've had some negative experiences also. I *don't* think the right answer, however, is to let the experiences get the better of you, because in my mind, you've let that person(s) win.

Unfortunately, creative workshops require a certain level of trust because, as I said, they're extremely intimate. We're putting ourselves on the line in a public forum, revealing aspects of our selves that are risky, embarrassing, strange, etc. Being there only to judge without allowing yourself to be judged year after year isn't sustainable.

So an all-in pot--I'll work out a fragment that suits those sensibilities and criteria enumerated above;
Best of luck! I'm sure many here who have no idea of your writing style but are fully aware of your critiquing prowess will be eager to finally peruse a fragment for critical analysis.
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Nobody suggested either stifling or censoring.

I suggested "family hold back". The reason was in my post.

I also suggested editing long posts down to their essential content - which for one whose occupation is "editor" surely isn't a big ask. And if it means more people will read and appreciate the posts, why not oblige?

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Pyre Dynasty
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I also think it would help if we had more discussion here in Open. I remember when we used to argue about ellipses and gerunds, brainstorm, and work out tricky research questions. This is where I had the most fun here back then. Fun is learning.

I do want to see this start working like that again. I've learned things here that I've taught my creative writing professors (which I admit says more about the quality of said professors than anything.)

Perhaps we should start a thousand ideas post. (I'll need to hunt down my Character and Viewpoint to refresh my memory on how exactly it's done.)

I will strive to respond to the fragments, I'm at my last semester and I'm terribly behind so I'm not in my best mind right now, and tired and busy, but I will strive. Perhaps I'll even post one of my recent stories.

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